Ruta Sepetys has More than Fifty Shades of Gray

Filed under: Book Reviews, Conferences, Reading, SCBWI, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

I met Ruta Sepetys at the 2012 SCBWI LA Conference and she moved me. She inspired me. She motivated me and I hadn’t even read her book yet. And then I did read it–cover to cover on the plane ride home from LA–and I realized that I kind of hate her, even though I love her, because she wrote one of THOSE books. A book that is a game changer. It’s what I want to write, perhaps not the content specifically, but I long to leave words behind that make the world a better place. ย She’s the kind of writer I want to be. When I talked to her and read her words, I saw her standing on the shoulders of the greats–like Harper Lee, Lois Lowry and Laurie Halse Anderson–that’s how good she is. And I wondered if there would still be room for me up there someday. But then I realized that I don’t have to be jealous–these women are not my competition–they are my heroes. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.


You can purchase BENEATH SHADES OF GRAY here…


*Barnes & Noble


*Other Online Booksellers


Kimberly’s Review of BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY:

I met Ruta Sepetys very recently at the SCBWI Annual LA Conference. I’m going to be honest, after hearing her speak, I moved BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY to the top of my to-read list and devoured it on the plane ride home from California.

Since I finished this book, I’ve recommended it to everyone. But as you might imagine, there are some funny conversations that come after I’ve passionately explained about this Lithuanian World War II story. For instance, I promised to bring the book over to my mother-in-law when I was done with this review. Yesterday I received a text message from her…

MIL: Kim, what was the name of that book you wanted me to read again? Some of the girls at work said it was Fifty Shades of Grey, which is kind of weird. Is that the same book?

Of course I set her straight LOL! But it got me hoping that more people will accidentally find Ruta’s book because of Fifty Shades. This would be a good thing because I’ve read them both and in my humble opinion, one of them WILL be read by enormous numbers of people and one of them SHOULD be read by enormous numbers of people.

BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY asks…”Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth?” I say we don’t wonder this enough. History is full of secrets, but I often question if this is by choice. Too often we fill ourselves up with books like Fifty Shades, so that we can claim that there is no room in our lives to uncover the real secrets–the ones that make us feel things and look at ourselves. What IS a human life worth?

Since we can not change history, I believe that history’s victims are owed a voice and a witness. Ruta Sepetys is the voice for those in Lithuania–the voice for human kindness. I am the witness. You are the witness. We can not change history, but by being cognizant, we do have the power to change the present. We must take the darkness out of secrets and bring the inhumanity out into the light–where we can keep our eyes on it. Where we can watch to make sure it never happens again. How can we prevent genocide, if we can’t even look at it. We get to choose what a human life is worth in the future. We have that power.

So, before you get your Christian Grey panties in a twist, I’m not saying you shouldn’t read Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m simply challenging you to read this book too. If you can be titillated by what goes on in that book, then you have the stomach to read about the real stuff. If you can stay up all night to read Fifty Shades from cover to cover, you can squeeze in a chapter a day of BETWEEN SHADE OF GRAY. I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone–fill yourself up with more than one kind of book. Be a witness. Help create a world where we never have to question what a human life is worth.


Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. Her award-winning debut novel, “Between Shades of Gray” was inspired by her family’s history in Lithuania and is published in 40 countries. Her new novel, “Out of the Easy” is set in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1950. A historical tale of secrets and lies, “Out of the Easy” is a haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny. Ruta lives with her family in Tennessee.

You can find out more about Ruta Sepetys and BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY here…

*Ruta’s Website

*Between Shades of Gray Website



So I need to know. Have you read this book yet? Do you plan to? What do you think of it? Talk to me people!!!

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8 Responses | TrackBack URL | Comments Feed

  1. So the cool thing about working in a library is that I can go right out and get this book. And I DID. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Fabulous!!!!! Let me know what you think IMMEDIATELY!!!!

  2. This book was my favorite from last year. I LOVED IT!!!!!!! Ruta is brilliant, and when I saw that she was going to be in LA and I was not I just about cried. I love Historical fiction and write it myself. Her book is a masterpiece.

    • She was dynamic in person and so helpful and gracious. I was blown away!

  3. I cried at during Ruta’s talk in LA. I cry every time I tell someone about it. I can’t wait to read this book. Today. And your post/review? Brilliant.

    • Awww I sobbed too! Thank you so much. Can’t wait to talk to you after you read it!!!!

  4. I haven’t yet, but it’s now going on my list. It sounds amazing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Books like this don’t come around often–you’ll love it!

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